(AP) — Casual college basketball fans and those who only tune in for the NCAA Tournament are about to be introduced to one of this season’s great love him-or-hate him players.
Peter Kiss of Bryant not only has a great name but also is averaging 25.1 points per game to lead the nation.
Kiss and the Bulldogs will meet Wright State in an NCAA Tournament play-in game in Dayton, Ohio, on Wednesday. The winner advances to face Arizona, seeded No. 1 in the West Region, in San Diego on Friday.
The Bulldogs from Smithfield, Rhode Island, are in the tournament for the first time as a Division I member, largely because of Kiss.
Kiss thrives on competition and getting under the opponent’s skin. He was suspended two games in February for his conduct in a game against Long Island that was marred by 12 technical fouls and four ejections.
His big personality was on full display during the Northeast Conference championship game against Wagner last week. On a driving layup, he dropped to the floor and did a couple of pushups before getting up. He made a 3-pointer, held up three fingers and stuck out his tongue. He did a raise-the-roof motion with his arms after a dunk. He trash talks opponents and debates calls and no-calls with officials.
Kiss can back up his antics. He leads the nation with 10 games with at least 30 points, including 34 in the NEC title game. He had a stretch of 10 straight games where he scored at least 25 points, including 30-plus in six in a row.
A sixth-year player from New York, Kiss is playing for his third college. He spent one year at Quinnipiac and three at Rutgers. He moved to Bryant last season.
“The great part about Peter Kiss is that he’s as nice as they come off the court. Probably be a great baby-sitter. You just have to make sure your kid doesn’t start talking (trash) and challenging him to 1v1 games in the yard. That might be a problem!!”